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Strawson's Objectivity Argument Author(s): Richard Rorty Reviewed work(s): Source: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 24, No.

2 (Dec., 1970), pp. 207-244 Published by: Philosophy Education Society Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20125764 . Accessed: 08/11/2012 15:16
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ARTICLES

ARGUMENT OBJECTIVITY STRAWSON'S


RICHARDRORTY

In

his

regent

book

on

Kant,1

Straw

son

has

offered

a new

and

of the Transcendental improved version of the central argument some that the possibility of experience Deduction?the argument of experience how involves the possibility of objects. This argu ment has a fair claim to be called the central argument of the Critique as a whole, since it is the argument which gives Kant's with the for traditional Cartesian notion of breaking justification a veil of perceptions which and separates the mind from the world, that the world is, in some sense, given whenever expe insisting rience is given. the Straw son's lead Kant account to follow without of this argument is an attempt involved in the getting

gives in terms of which Kant presents the Deduc "theory of synthesis" I think that this attempt tion. is just what is needed in order to I Kant's but think also that has not Strawson insight, explicate in disentangling the underlying entirely succeeded "analytic" argu ment Kantian picture of intuitions from the misguided and con sorts of representations. In this article, cepts as distinguishable I offer an exegesis of this passage in Strawson, and I suggest revi
sions of, and additions to, his arguments.2

Early the Critique

in The Bounds in the

of Sense, Strawson gives us form of six theses which Kant two Deduction:

the plot wishes

of to are

I quote from this passage the expound. most to relevant the Transcendental clearly
1 page account

theses which

The

Bounds

references 2 I shall of

(London, of Sense inserted in the text are

Unless 1966). to this book. matters even "the though objectivity in the way by

otherwise

specified,

an argument is right Strawson an addendum to notion temporal of

refrain from complicating the Refutation of Idealism, for what calls Strawson

's up Strawson taking the Refutation is also I think thesis." that he as does?namely, the point that the notion of a spatio

in treating the Refutation the objectivity thesis which requires for its

objectivity framework.

emphasizes the explication

208
that there must series be of such unity extended

RICHARDRORTY
of some the members among temporally as is required of self for the possibility on the part of a subject of experiences, of the "necessary unity of conscious

experiences self-ascription thesis (the

or consciousness, of such experiences ness"); that experience

must

include of

awareness them about in the what subjective

of

from experiences guishable are judgements these objects actual occurrence of

are which objects sense that judgements is the case irrespective experiences of them

distin about of the (the

particular

objectivity On Straw son's

thesis).

(p.21)

account of the Deduction, it is (a) an argument for starts from the thesis of the necessary the objectivity thesis which and (b) an argument for the latter thesis unity of consciousness, on the basis of a definition of what counts as "experience"?viz., contents that "particular of experience should be the requirement as some a feature which character," having general recognized Strawson Putting "the conceptualizability of experience" (p. 25). to the Deduction the is an answer and (b) together, (a) we can to find be necessarily "What features involved in also calls

of experience conception solely in virtue of the fact aware must we become fall the particular items of which Strawson under under) general concepts?" (be brought (p. 72) that the use of to presenting himself commits arguments showing that of self-consciousness and that self concepts implies the possibility an of world. consciousness objective implies experience thesis is cast in the form Straw son's proof of the objectivity the possibility of what he calls a "sense of an argument against datum proof in interpreting Straw son's The first difficulty experience." occurs in his description of this experience. Here it is:
doubt, unified not be it might in some be way must of a possible the contents said, experience But why be brought under and must concepts. a conscious of such of awareness (accusatives) items and such that there was no distinction to be

question: any coherent

No be ness

should drawn

the objects a succession of

of the objects (and of their arrangement and and characteristics) the order and arrangement features particular of them?items, of awareness of the subject's therefore, experiences in Kant's sense? of objective not be the topics would which judgements sort which the earlier sense-datum the be of Such might objects between the order brown round theorists flashes, of?red, oblongs, patches, spoke smells. sensations, whistles, recognition, concepts, Certainly tickling to a consciousness with would be necessary some any span of memory one But why involve another. all these would and at all; experience

STRAWSON'S
should

OBJECTIVITY

ARGUMENT

209

as not be simply such the concepts sensory concepts quality ... in the early and limited sense-datum It is quite figure vocabulary? as its contents should have the conceivable that experience precisely we have sort of essentially of disconnected been impressions speaking nor which neither in "united of, being require, ?impressions permit the concept of an object" in the sense in which Kant this understands phrase, (pp. 98-99)

The puzzling is that it is hard to thing about this description see how there could be objects of awareness "such that there was no distinction to be drawn" between their order and arrangement and arrangement of the subject's of experiences One would think that whether was such a distinction drawn or not depended the experiencer to chose upon whether draw it, and that it was not a matter determined the by objects For suppose I am confronted themselves. and by brown oblongs If I know that my eyes are shut and that I am red round patches. and them. with nor confronted brown being oblong physical objects round red ones (but instead, say, by after-images) then I shall not be tempted to distinguish are and the between the way the oblongs seem. I If I don't know shall way they this, go ahead probably I am seeing the putatively and wonder whether brown and oblong But there seems to be nothing about the things as they really are. or the which in not Straw son's phrase, would, oblongs patches of their an in "united the concept of if I permit being object," so to unite them. choose To put the point another way, what could dictate matter ? No are the follow and quickly oblongs followed by the round patches, for example, I can still conceive of as the movements of arid round myself watching rapid oblong as watching the rapid movements of pieces of wood?or, perhaps, and oval of wood to which happen look oblong and square pieces round due to the funny perspective. how inappropriateness and erratically such unification Strawson intends by a "sense-datum then, what a man who does not have is the of experience" simply experience in his On this concepts physical-object conceptual repertoire. crucial in the the interpretation, passage above is that the proviso are limited to "such sensory concepts experiencer's quality con in the early and limited sense-datum cepts as figure vocabulary." A subject who has only such concepts available will not have the Perhaps, be the nature to me the of the "essential disconnection" of which would not the order

210

RICHARDRORTY

from his own awareness, of an object distinct and thus concept to distinguish the order and will not be in a position between of objects and the order and arrangement of his arrangement us man a a such of call the of Let experience objects. experiences
"sense-datum experiencei." If we are to show that a sense-datum

experiencei

something limited a conceptual repertoire. of Straw son's intention But another interpretation is possible, to one which notion "such the does more of justice experience to be drawn. On this inter that there is no distinction ..."

we shall have to is impossible, about the conception incoherent

show that there of a man with

is so

is an experience has in mind what Strawson such that, pretation, in his entire life, had only this sort of experience, if a man, he As would never have been able to grasp physical-object concepts. an example of what be like, we may take such experience would in the "Sounds" chapter of describes the auditory world Strawson for there were, Individuals. Strawson there says that unless were a that its variations in such "master-sound" pitch example, correlated with what else was heard, one would not be regularly criteria for the re-identification of auditory able to formulate an not of would have notion the and thus objective particulars, particular. be present such as this would have to Some systematic regularity in the experience of the inhabitant of such a world of an object.3 the notion before he could formulate and round, to our visual example of brown oblongs Returning as describing an experi red circles, then, we can think of Strawson ence inwhich

these shapes and colors appear without any systematic of other correlation either with each other or with appearances As long as this chaotic continued, sensory qualities. experience we would not be able to formulate criteria for the re-identification of visual larities sort of regu the proper But if at some point objects. and such criteria and we then formulated did appear,

world

an auditory to say here that a genius be tempted inhabiting might could such nevertheless without such regularities regularities imagine in and for re-identification of particulars then formulate criteria occurring, terms of these merely then have He would concepts imaginary regularities. never In he would to apply, to imagined cases. which have occasion except to this be point, as much however, a "part all we of his need say experience" is that an as a "real" imagined regularity. regularity

3 We

reply would

STRAWSON'S

OBJECTIVITY

ARGUMENT

211

to our conceptual reper concepts thereby added physical-object we could when the chaos then later (as we toire, reappeared to think of ourselves as watch above) use these concepts suggested movement In swift and the erratic of, say, pieces of wood. ing to physical-object concepts had one had no other sort of experience, is one which, us to acquire would have left one unable them. What puzzled was it the that seemed about passage quoted impossible originally to imagine a situation in which we couldn't apply physical-object an experience which he and yet Strawson was describing concepts, rather We now see that we can inter imaginable.4 not do pret "impressions which permit being united in the concept of an object" as "impressions which would not permit the formula of an object." tion of criteria for re-identification clearly thought was rience2." sense. a "sense-datum Let us call this second sort of experience expe as talking about a sense-datum If we think of Strawson we must in a restricted think of its "impossibility" experience2, the argument What that we can never have for the objectivity such an experience, thesis will other words, no purchase the sense-datum experience is not one which gives once one has them, but

show is but only that we an experience must have had another sort of experience first?viz., to give us a grasp which did contain enough systematic regularities in question will be The impossibility of physical-object concepts. If a sense of having only this sort of experience. the impossibility and if all experience must be the is impossible, datum experiencei then it of a person who has physical-object concepts, experience will have be the case that not all our experience will necessarily not
been a sense-datum experience^

of a sense-datum shall see, it is the impossibility expe I shall now examine Strawson riencei for which actually argues. to it, and After doing so, proposing modifications this argument. come I shall of the modified the argument, strength evaluating As we criticize to the notion of "sense-datum it, and experience2," claim that we can, by a priori argument, take up the puzzling have about the order in which we must demonstrate something had certain sorts of experiences. back
4 own pp. Cf. p. 109: "Each such of us as can the perfectly sense-datum Strawson well a stretch of his imagine describes." theorist (But see not have said this.) should

being experience where 227-230 below,

I argue

that

212

RICHARDRORTY

ness

inferred the thesis of the necessary unity of conscious Having from the thesis of the conceptualizability of experience (an as in detail shortly), inference we shall examine Strawson proceeds toward the objectivity thesis:

follows
What

an acknowledgement, then is implied of such by the potentiality must the potentiality?which be present in every experience?of by as having awareness of oneself is implied, it? The that very minimum Kant must is precisely sense what the hypothesis of the purely reply, to exclude. is that The minimum attempts "experience" implied least of the concepts items under which particular experienced as falling are should be such that the experiences them recognized for certain selves the contain the basis allied distinctions; individually, a judgement within of experience distinction of a subjective component as if this is a heavy to me is distinguishable within stone" (as "it seems "this the distinction the sub between is a heavy stone"); collectively, on the order and arrangement of such of a series jective experiences some at one they hand are the objective on order and experiences the other, arrangement (p. 101) of the items of which datum

Though

he does not spell it out explicitly, lie what Strawson must one an this in is not that would know what passage expe saying rience was if one did not know what a physical object was.5 What
the two notions is the seeming-versus-being distinction.

unites

what words, the distinction is between know and being, you won't seeming what an experience if you do know what this distinc is, whereas tion is, you automatically knowr what a physical object is.c There
5 the Strawson has know available the what an an additional for this argument of Individuals?to

In other

Strawson

is saying

that

if you don't

know

claim? the

familialargument effect that you don't a person is. and that physical-object this additional duces terms ness. the not of The claim

from

"Persons"

chapter

a person must as well characteristics argument between in mind in The

experience be thought as "mental" Bounds

what is unless know you of as something that has characteristics. He intro in for

the distinction to bear point in question?the open notion

at pages 102-106 of Sense and transcendental self-conscious empirical is that there are two separate arguments just cited know what insists our

the possibility have the of

that of

argument one could

leaves from page 101. which an experience was if one did that grasp even of the grasp a physical object in "Persons." Strawson is of what so our

notion was,

and developed or wrongly) to get would in saying that Kant right (rightly prefer certainly the latter argument, to the former. and would along without cling 6 at this point that one could the contrast It might be objected grasp if one of physical the concept between "seems" and "is" even lacked object

"experience" the argument

a person, but would presuppose which Strawson

STRAWSON'S

OBJECTIVITY

ARGUMENT

213

the concept of "physical object" fore, only persons who can wield are persons who can wield that of "experience," and since by the can of thesis of the necessary all consciousness unity experiencers wield The the latter concept, all of them can wield the former. inference
What

is slightly

clearer

in the following

passage:

is meant of a possible self-reflexiveness expe by the necessary in general could be otherwise that experience expressed by saying as to provide room must for the thought be such of experience itself. room of the objectivity-condition The point is that it provides for this on the one hand, It provides for "Thus and so is how room, thought. on the other, are are" and, for "This is how objectively things things as being"; room it provides for the second and experienced thought rience because it provides room for the first, (p. 107)

know
me

The point that Strawson what "experience" means


..." means, that you don't

is making if you don't


know what

here
that

know what
means

is that you don't "seems to


unless you

to be X and not be X, and something can seem to me to be X and not that if you know that something be X, you know what it is for something to be a physical object. So anybody who can say to himself: "This is the way it seems to me now" can also say to himself: "This may be how certain are room now." The of for" is physical objects metaphor "provides and to the boils down what words argument you must dispensable, be able to use if vou are able to use certain other words. The

know

that

can

seem

to me

a distinction between and nonveridical, veridical by making trustworthy sense data, on the basis and untrustworthy, or incoherence of the coherence of some sense data with But what others. it mean to say that a sense would was save that datum it did not properly nonveridical the charac represent of some physical teristics sense of the notion And how could we make object? that a given of something red was we unless experience "untrustworthy" the notion have of something or which is red whether it seems that way not? Without with Bennett other the sense latter data" all notion, can mean that is "sense datum which sense does datum" not cohere "unfamiliar as and, is to abuse

the hallucinatory with the unfamiliar it, "to identify sense of 'hallucinatory'." Kant's Bennett, (Jonathan Analytic we might another p. 34.) To put the point way, 1966], [Cambridge, imagine a sense datum habits of expectation such that he experiencer developing sense the course of his to reproduce certain data and expected frequent puts the ordinary familiar patterns habits patterns which is not yet and it has did not expect occasionally to have the concept followed it to reproduce certain in the past. But of "seems." rare and "wild" such to develop

214
central
if you

RICHARDRORTY
point
are

is that you need


able to use

to be able to use "is objectively


"seems."

there" whether unity


under

to be

now enough, everything Clearly can demonstrate the thesis of Strawson


consciousness, stand what and "seems" thus means. show that Before every giving

on depends the necessary


experiencer Straw son's does

of

argument

to spend a moment examining to in the claim is the "unity" referred the of some tem that "there must be such unity among the members as for the of extended series is required experiences porally or of of self-consciousness, self-ascription experiences"? possibility in order for In what sense do our experiences have to be "unified" for this thesis, however, thesis itself. What need to be possible? All we have to go on here is the self-ascription or do not require notion of "disconnected which impressions we dis permit of being unified in the concept of an object" which we concluded In that discussion, that the "dis above. cussed was a lack of the sort of systematic of ap connection" regularity of criteria for the re-identification permit in the So question presumably unity objects as would permit here is the existence of such systematic regularities the formulation of criteria for the use of the concept "my expe pearance which would to be formulated.
rience" or "seems to me that. ..." What regularities might

we

Part of the answer these be? include those same regularities acquired objectivity
concepts

physical-object thesis was


in order to

at a minimum, is plain: they would, for us to have which were necessary for the the argument For concepts. that
the

just
have

one

had

to have
to me

physical-object
that . . . ."

concept

"seems

Are

are needed? these which besides regularities no us to it and is hard Strawson imagine how the help here, gives we do not the be answered. But moment) (for question might we for answer turn to Strawson's need to it, for when argument we to find that reference the necessary unity of consciousness, all that is argued for is unity has dropped out of the conclusion; there other
"the potential acknowledgement of the experience as one's own."

Before ment.

worrying It goes
It was intuitions

further as follows:
at the

about

"unity,"

let us examine

the argu

agreed and does

outset

which

general not involve

that experience requires can be no There concepts. the recognition of particular

both particular at all experience as being of items

STRAWSON'S
such in and the most

OBJECTIVITY
such

ARGUMENT
that it must be

215
even possible, a to distinguish identical simply time is recognized, seem we

fleeting

of component or wholly the particular absorbed with, by, the topic which of judgement. forms Yet to concede that there are particular forced a momentary of which sensation) tickling have what no Kant existence must

a general It seems kind. and of subjective or judgement, recognition,

impressions, which is not item which at the same

subjective experiences (e.g., the objects (accusatives)

to acknowledge can be rience, referring Recognition into which ing with potentiality from ponent of character item cannot

of the awareness It is clear of them. independently as the way out of this difficulty. out is The way regard to expe that the recognitional necessary component, in experience of of the possibility present only because of the them all. experience as shar own, fact that this

different

to one identical experiences subject the potential of acknowledgement as being enters one's necessarily recognition implies this relation to the identical self. It is the is implicit absorption the particular be conceived

others

com saves the recognitional in recognition which saves the into the item recognized (and hence even when as an experience) that experience of it. as having an 100-101) (pp. existence independent of the

particular

experience

of

is the notion of "recognition," and The key to this argument us to go slowly and to see how this notion it behooves is being the thesis The second sentence of the argument identifies used. intuitions and general requires both particular the the thesis that every experience "involves a as and of such of items such recognition particular being general iden This should give us pause, because of the implicit kind." "experience with concepts" that with an intuition. It is tempting, of an item recognized as to think of least, recognition typified by such cases as a white or a man to be Jones, recognizing patch recognizing a as the tail of But these are deer. the woods through flashing can be reported acts in in a sentence, which acts of recognition tification at which been brought
e.g., "man"

the "item recognized" has, prior under the concept signified


in "This man is Jones."

to the recognition, by one of the words


The recognition of an

already used?
intui

as falling under a concept cannot be so reported, because no can So it term refer to the intuition prior to its conceptualization. seems clear that "recognition" is being used in a special way? a way which we can not only recognize that some that suggests tion but that bears one description may bear another, thing which one. no in turn bear This which bears something description may aware we can be of that somehowr suggests something?the

216
intuition

RICHARDRORTY

to being aware of it under any descrip recognized?prior we recognize we it it. before that tion, cognize if we look at the next two This latter suggestion is reinforced The third sentence of the argument. a there is recognitional component. experience identifies later passage (p. 110) "conceptual sentences
"recognitional component," so it seems that this

says that in every Strawson in a component"


sentence reiterates

and

involves both concepts that every experience and intuitions. But this sentence also tells us that we can "distinguish" this component as something not "absorbed" Here by the "item recognized." we are two have the there that suggestion "distinguishable" again that we might in each experience?so be components This suggestion is strengthened without the other. the next?the which is the crux fourth?sentence, ment of its steps. and the most mysterious This aw are of one if we look at of the sentence argu tells

us that although in any experience, there should, be these two dis are experiences it that there elements, may happen tinguishable whose the "items (accusatives)" "objects recogniz (presumably of the awareness This of them. ed") do not exist independently claim would only conflict with identified tence if we somehow "recognitional the claim made in the third sen "the awareness of them" with the

experience. intuition and concept first with the contrast between "item recog and theri with the contrast nized" and "recognitional component," and. "awareness." awareness" between He is identify "object of ing the role of the concept
experience.

and thus with the concept used in the component" So Strawson must be identifying the contrast between

with

the element

of awareness

in any

over this identification, let us finish up our puzzling account of the argument of the solution of by taking created by the conflict between the third and the the "difficulty" com is that "the recognitional fourth sentences. The solution in experience ponent can be present only because of the possibility one identical different to of referring experiences subject of them Before dissection possibility into the absorption that only because we
is, because we can

all."

This

from "saves the recognitional component is item recognized." idea the Apparently aware can be aware of ourselves (that being
a given experience as ours) can we

acknowledge

be aware.

Further,

this is the case because

only by being

aware

of

STRAWSON'S ourselves

OBJECTIVITY

ARGUMENT

217

com the recognitional being aware, do we distinguish from item the (the awareness) (the object of recognized ponent The thus is: awareness). reasoning
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Experience requires the ability the to item discriminate between the item between the

and component recognitional The recognitional component nized is the object of awareness. So So This experience awareness and experience ability

recognized. is the awareness and discriminate

recog the

to the ability requires the object of awareness. requires the how

explains though awareness

is percipi?even between the

are aware. to be aware that we ability we can experience esse whose objects in such experiences there is no distinction of the object our own of awareness. as item isn't.) an We do so by awareness?thus producing

and

on the adding a recognitional (Though the item, the

awareness

original awareness

as well component awareness of the of the awareness

item recognized. in the is "absorbed"

puzzles in this reasoning, notably a puzzle aware our the possibility of being aware about why of being should be enough to enable us to have experience of objects whose esse is percipi. think that this possibility must be (One would There in order not to get lost in the bushes, let us But, difficulties the central one?the except premiss of "concept" to "awareness." labelled (2) above, the assimilation sense of this assimilation What would be required to make ? Only, can I think, the assumption that every experience in be reported actualized.) skip over all some such form pendently-existing existing object is the way I am experiencing this inde or is how "This this object," independently or "This is how I am aware of this seems to me," as "This

are numerous

are like It is only if all experiences object." independently-existing can be of all how this?if objects seem? they expressed by reports of recognition" the "component with that we can identify the are like this, they will divide up neatly If they into "awareness." and the qua independently-existing recognized object awareness I of that of qua my object. recognition" "component I have an experience will always be aware of two things whenever as expe and myself ?the object itself as a sort of bare particular am not a I if as kind. of such and such it Or, riencing something I always will be able to be always aware of these two things, the item aware of them, for they are there to be discriminated.

218

RICHARDRORTY

that that is what experiences The trouble with the assumption as a whole was are like, however, is that this is what the argument to prove. So it cannot be assumed half-way We along. supposed cannot of a show that every experience must be the experience the of has all who that concept person "experience" by assuming . . .," nor come I in the form "This is how experience experiences we come that way. that they could always What by assuming on the basis of the single fact that experiences have to do is show, of expe thesis of the conceptualizability involve concepts?the no concept can be wielded if the concept "seems to rience?that me that ..." cannot be (or, more nominalistically, that no words can be used if these words cannot be). As far as I can see, the of Straw son's which we have been analyzing gives us argument no help in this direction. the ques has either begged Strawson tion or has buried his point beneath metaphors ("absorption," defy interpretation. e.g.) which of this argument is that it leads us back A further criticism into the Kantian ing to avoid. to require us Strawson is attempt "theory of synthesis" which seems As we have seen, explicating the argument to take seriously of intuition? notion the Kantian we are aware of without which of something being cannot get along We any description. which was used in describing of "impression"
notion which was simply

the notion aware of it under with for the notion


sense-datum

here the

experience?a

shorthand

of sensory qual using reportable only concepts "experience For here we are talking about any possible ities." experience? in the experience described theorist, by the sense-datum including or are "That is like "This is red" all reports of experience which We are saying that even in the case of such experiences oblong." a "particular to be drawn between item" and there is a distinction a "general concept." item" apart from But what is the "particular to We its redness or its oblongness? seem, as suggested above, I that awareness doubt of bare particulars. be saddled with to follow, but I am unable such a consequence Strawson wishes otherwise. he says can be interpreted A look back over the ground we have covered. which as an experience in was defined sense-datum only experience for the The argument sensory quality concepts were employed. to show, starting from the premiss thesis was designed objectivity to see how what Let us now

ARGUMENT OBJECTIVITY STRAWSON'S


of the necessary unity of consciousness, that a sense-datum

219
expe

rience was who could

impossible. use the

What

it did show was

physical-object impossibility
experiencer

concept "my to show So all that was required concepts. was to of a sense-datum show that experience
use the concept "my experience." The

that any experiencer could also use experience" the any


argu

could

it turned out, side for the necessary unity of consciousness, of "unity" and simply tried to the notion altogether, stepped of the for "the potential the necessity establish acknowledgement as as latter this own." We one's interpreted phrase experience or me seems to 'it the 'my experience', concept meaning "grasping " it fit the hole left open by the argument that . . . ', thus making thesis. Strawson's for But because for the objectivity argument of grasping these concepts the necessity fails, this hole still seems ment open.
thesis.

So we

do not yet have

a way

of backing

up the objectivity

now

I want my exegesis of Strawson. ends, for the moment, if successful, will do the to put forward an argument which, not quite in the way he wants done, though job Strawson I do not for the thesis think this argument objectivity suggests. it will let us see more but sketching is conclusive, clearly what the remains to be done if we want to continue along path marked This

of Kant. out by Strawson's reconstruction from the thesis of the con This goes directly argument a to the impossibility of sense-datum of experience ceptualizability A the consciousness. of necessary unity bypassing experiencei,
sense-datum experiencei was an experience such that no concepts

We in it save those of sensory qualities. can, I believe, on is possible the basis of an show that no such experience simply to The is is have such it argument concepts. analysis of what a judgment, is to be able to make to use a concept simply this: a sen a thought involves having which expressible by complete are used tence; but if all one has are names sentences. not be able to construct
in one's conceptual repertoire are such

one will for sensory qualities, if all one has In other words,
adjectives as "red," "hard,"

in one's then one does not yet have anything and "painful," For one is not yet, lacking substantives, ceptual repertoire.

con in a

220

RICHARDRORTY
and if one can In still other
and "pain

to form a judgment, to use these adjectives position one does not possess concepts. not form judgments,
words, someone who has only the words "red,"

"hard,"

does in his any words yet vocabulary if he should call out "red" only when confronted vocabulary?even red objects, "hard" only when with etc.? touching hard objects, a more who make than could these would sounds any parrot only ful" in his means?and the meanings of words. To know what "red" to have the concept at least "red"?one must sort of thing can be red. know what So one must have physical or as after-images or of such things concepts object concepts thus
sensory states?substantival concepts.

not

have

be

said

to know

last point, then we may have shown that a accept is but we shall not yet have sense-datum impossible, experiencei are that physical-object shown for experience concepts required this to be possible. For the concept of a sensory a for playing is candidate the example, we substantival Here, however, concept. one not would that know Strawson's argument one knew what a physical was unless object this
"inner"

If we

state of the self, for role of the needed need what was. to remember an experience Can we use about
datum,

argument
(sensory

to show
state,

that
sense

talking
impression,

or

thinking
sense

anything
sensation)

which

terms

as the only be proposed sensory qualities will signifying the concept of the "outer"? might We said above that Strawson's

entities

to be qualified the grasp presuppose

by of

for the objectivity argument that don't know what you upon holding "expe depended to me" means. if you don't know what "seems rience" means as This claim seems sound as long as we think of "experience" thesis meaning we build as of an object"?as long, roughly speaking, "experience into our notion of something relation the subject-object to show that be necessary But further argument would "inner." a grasp of this relation all concepts of "inner" states presupposed

(that notion

of "seems," and so tied to the tied to the notion is, were . . be to the Such of "is objectively ."). argument would one of "seems," would effect that if one did not have the notion have no notion of not have the notion of self at all, and thus would states of the self. A defender of Strawson of "seems in other words, that the notion might to me" was try to show, basic to one's

ARGUMENT 221 OBJECTIVITY STRAWSON'S


and that unless one thought of what it was to be a person, as someone to which in such-and-such of oneself objects appeared a as one not think of oneself would Such an ways, self at all. but there is an alternative be successful, tactic argument might notion of the objectivity thesis to Strawson the which argument appeal that to have the concept ?the argument ness" one has to have the concept of the which a defender can employ. This is to 7 in Individuals presents of a "state of conscious subject of such a state,

and that one can have the latter concept (the concept of a person or a self) one can use physical-object to distinguish if concepts only one person from another. This is a quite independent argument, serve equally well to complete the argument for the and it would thesis (although would it, unlike the former argument, objectivity no in the Transcendental have Deduction). counterpart To defend himself of the opponent against either argument, insist that we could have a conceptual thesis might the objectivity scheme without which would enable us to think as states about of the states of the self an self. Such thinking no someone that that who had is, grant, opponent might physical our concept of a state of the self, but object concepts would not have could nonetheless grasp a concept which he applied just on those about them
occasions when, e.g., we would apply the concept of "sensation

is that there might The suggestion be terms of something red." same as terms had which the extensions in a solipsistic language our in not the states of consciousness but language, signifying same meanings, and that the use of these words would provide an not make which would concepts experience possible?but experience embodied the objectivity thesis. If the strategy were take the it would in this suggestion successful, force not only out of both the Strawsonian arguments mentioned but out of any which in the previous has the form: paragraph, to expe "The concept X presupposes the concept Y, and therefore which satisfies rience A's presupposes to any such argument,

For in reply being able to experience Y's." an opponent can grant that to experience A's as A's would require a grasp of the concept Y, but never theless insist that A's may be experienced under another descrip

Cf.

n.

5 above.

222
tion,

RICHARDRORTY

this new and that a grasp of the terms used in formulating an use not term to the "Y." does presuppose description ability I think that the way of countering is to put the this strategy him to spell out burden of proof on the opponent by requiring would be, and to show that it could be description a In the present case, such a task coherent language-game. part of be more difficult than it may first appear. For the skeptic would to show not merely about the objectivity thesis will be required our that we could react to states of consciousness without having what of "state of consciousness" but also to show that such concept states could be experienced this concept. without "Experience" a sense here must be taken in with thesis concordant Strawson's of the "conceptualizability requires both experience of experience"?that is, the thesis that intuitions since and concepts. Further, of pr?supposai is relations among concepts this new

our only test for a given word could be said to be properly used by some whether one who could not use some other word, to have a given concept a necessary as must be identified with condition) (or at least have or a Thus the ability to use a given word, given group of words. a not to which is be have will said language nothing experience user. Now must have

to distinguish from other entities, we language-users some w ay of distinguishing from the use of a language to the For environment. of other complicated ways reacting seems a but it is such distinction difficult, mulating immensely be that a language must make safe to say that one constraint would as justification, and self such operations explanation, possible to make So the skeptic about the objectivity correction. thesis,

is possible for beings who "our" concept of selfhood, concepts physical-object can in the be performed must describe the sort of inferences which new sorts of he is suggesting. He must tell us what language count as reasons sorts of statements. for what statements other good his lack both suggestion that experience and It is therefore would not enough for him to suggest and only when what be uttered when of something red" occurs; sensation he must that certain we would also fill sounds call "a

to permit us to grasp details about inference-patterns a way of talking which can be into translated neither satisfactorily our ordinary discourse nor into our about states of consciousness ordinary discourse about physical objects.

in enough the notion of

STRAWSON'S

OBJECTIVITY

ARGUMENT

223

that no such new lan I do not think it can be demonstrated no can be formulated. is why This for the argument guage can be clinching. A thesis could clinching argument objectivity we a criteria for had clear that if certain be word saying given only did not could not be understood by a being whose vocabulary To see the morass into which we include a certain other word. the following can rapidly be led, consider move (quasi-Russellian) the thesis: he might objectivity granted, say, by the skeptic about that our words of "red," "hard," and "painful" require the notions or of of states consciousness for never their use, objects physical can conceive of terms used when and only when the we what should call is of having, "experiences speaker something " as having a use in a language which red (or hard or painful) con the terms "resembles" in addition, and "is (spatio tained, only next to," plus some logical constants. Such a lan temporally) our most of of the insists, guage, permits counterparts skeptic our now in inferences But there language. ordinary performed a man the could arises who didn't others) (among question: a physical or a mental know what could not, in object was?who Strawson's what "is (spatio particulars?know phrase, re-identify next to" meant? To answer this, we should have to temporally) this expression could be used by someone who decide whether like "here" and "now," nor the could not use token-reflexives
of "the place where . . .is." There is certainly a case for

theless we

notion

saying that it could not be so used, but I do not see how the case All that we can do is put the conclusive. could ever be made burden of proof on the skeptic to spell out the inference-patterns which Until he does so, it is fair to charac provide a use. in the terms in which terize him Strawson characterizes the a to one who at but accept "pretends scheme, skeptic: conceptual would the same
8 ment."

time quietly

rejects

one of the conditions

of its employ

It is now

time

back to problems a sense-datum experiencei


8 Individuals, p. 35.

to sum up what which we deferred is

has been earlier.

shown Have we No. But

and

to look

impossible?

shown that we have

224
shown who man that think it is harder to describe such

RICHARDRORTY
an experience than those have confronted the We

have imagined. it possible thinks such an experience the following possible with he must choices: the thesis of the either (a) deny conceptualiz or (b) deny that the ability to use certain ability of experience, or of having is a necessary condition certain words concepts, how words could have sensory qualities (c) explain signifying a use in a language which had no terms for re-identifiable partic If he chooses be like ulars. (a), he must explain Avhat it would to have experience of something which was not experience of it as who of such-and-such
we can experience

a sort.
something

If he chooses
as of

(b), he must
a

explain
sort

how like he

such-and-such

without

it would thinking of it as of that sort, or else explain what a he to think without in If chooses language. thinking we have rehearsed above. the various difficulties confronts

be (c),

ensue if that will We cannot here follow out the arguments more our opponent will be said chooses (a) or (b). Something in the concluding section of this article, about these possibilities I shall only note once again that unless we but for the moment to language of the term "experience" both restrict the application users to those signified the concepts they can employ we no can will whatever for basis have use, they by words of about the possibility transcendental expe arguments offering on considerations rest the of Strawsonian rience. type Arguments other can be understood of which of which words independently and restrict which if we admit vanishes The relevance of these considerations as an X of a being who could experience the possibility something nor use "A" the word not but could any equivalent expression. for the impossibility then, that a case has been made Given,
of a sense-datum experiencei, have we thereby made a case for

words.

sense-datum experience2 must have been saying that any "chaotic" exhibited a "non-chaotic" (i.e., one which experience by preceded us to formulate which would enable certain systematic regularities ? The of physical-object for the application criteria concepts) a the claim that such relation of priority must behind assumption before hold was that a certain order must hold within experience or "tree." terms one could grasp physical-object like "stone" as an order by someone But how could such order be experienced nor terms terms for sensory who had neither physical-object

ARGUMENT OBJECTIVITY STRAWSON'S

225

that having If our argument concepts sensory-quality qualities? is sound, we cannot concepts presupposes having physical-object now suggest that a person could formulate criteria for the applica he acquires in ante tion of the first physical-object concepts terms. But other terms what sensory-quality cedently understood, are there? To put conceptualizability in order concepts first concepts we the point more the thesis of the generally: of experience tells us that we must have some so we cannot say that the to have any experience; are acquire acquired only because we have had

of a certain type. Whatever the necessary conditions experiences our first concepts not for acquiring will include the fact are, they we to that have had certain experiences. Or, put it in terms of we on the basis of cannot explain language-acquisition language, the infant's having had certain experiences. (Though we might, on it the basis of the infant's of course, sensory organs explain to certain been exposed stimuli. And it doubtless is the having a as matter that unless stimuli of these case, fact, psychological occurred be in certain orderly and regular ways, make notion us see that language the notion would not acquired.) These considerations

of a sense

of "an experience which, if it had experience2?the been the only sort of experience we had ever had, would not have us to grasp physical-object It incoherent. concepts"-?is permitted a is trivially true that if for sense-datum is impossible experiencei at all, to be possible the reasons given above, then, for experience datum are necessary for the grasping of comes in fulfilled. The be mistake object concepts of certain sorts include the having that these conditions To put the matter rience. another way: it is a mistake the conditions which must
that when we are, for example, aware of an auditory

physical thinking of expe to think


chaos we

are duplicating of the preconceptual the experience infant. We some concepts cannot help applying "chaotic") (e.g., the concept to such a chaos?thinking of the chaos in some terms or other. But we cannot strip off the thoughts from the experience and thus to use Kantian the infant has. We cannot, terms, recapture what aware nor of be intuitions, imagine ourselves having unsynthesized some conditions of the intuitions. We can discover unsynthesized a priori of the which conditions (namely, possibility experience in having sorts of concepts at hand) and we can consist certain

226
discover certain the others

RICHARDRORTY

a posteriori by psycho-physiological inquiry stimuli required). of But we cannot get in (namely, a third set of and the stimuli and describe the concepts between a certain the condition that intuitions conditions?e.g., display sorts
"unity" or "order."

To reinforce between an includes

which experience auditory a master-sound. with correlations Earlier we blithely cannot said that the man who has only the former as his experience criteria for the use of the notion of "objective formulate auditory whereas the man who has the latter can. This sug particular," is first aware of the master-sound and gests that the latter man some after and induc correlated sounds, then, performing simple if it such things as "I'll call it 'misheard' tions, says to himself the master-sound is at doesn't sound the way it usually does when 9 that one can't use sensory that pitch." But if our argument one uses physical-object terms terms was sound, he before quality or sounds correlated with it can't be aware of the master-sound sense of the notion of objective unless he already can make auditory

this point, chaos auditory

let us and

look once an

again

at the contrast

are correlated with other such pitches, awareness If this of antecedent picture particulars, what does the claim that experience is wrong, of (e.g.) pitches the formation of cer must be of a certain sort in order to permit particulars which have and the like. come to? said in order to be correctly tain concepts Simply this: to have a given concept one must have at some time or another it in forming (true or false) about some judgment applied it?used a is so If man's real or imagined repertoire entity. conceptual are can make he limited that the only sorts of judgments reports or introspection, be the case then it will necessarily of observation have experienced that if he has the concept "A," then he will or other as have he that X; will, is, judged something something a a or falsely) about not remark X. to is This be psycho (truly the experience It is not to say that he needed logical mechanism. "A" from it. Rather, the concept of an X in order to "abstract" a man with the grasp it is a remark about our criteria for crediting If we have no reason to think that a man has ever of a concept. "that thing is red" or "this thing seems red to had the thought
9 Cf. J. Bennett, op. cit., pp. 34-36.

STRAWSON'S me,"
thing

OBJECTIVITY think
"this

ARGUMENT judgments
seems to me

227
of the
..."

and
is

if we

that
thing

simple
are the

forms
only

"that
he

. . ."or

sorts

can make,
"red"

then we have no reason

for thinking

that he knows

what

means.10

have his

to say that the inhabitant of an auditory universe must in sounds correlated with the pitches of a master-sound in order to have the concept of "objective auditory experience Thus had

is simply to say that he must have once had the thought particular" the master-sound has that pitch" "this sound always occurs when in order to properly be said to have once had the thought "this is as ten I the same objective heard minutes auditory particular ago." It does not matter whether it does not even either thought is true; man matter is done that the is stone-deaf and his language-training in his brain. electrodes In the only relevant sense of by inserting he will still have had the appropriate experience" in his experience. For purposes of describing the pre of grasping the between conditions distinction concepts, "expe one experiences A" collapses. Or, to riencing A" and "thinking use Kantian terms again, only the concepts and the judgments "had in his correlation matter; We the intuitions drop out. are now in a position to which to clear up two puzzles in his review of The Bounds Bennett directs attention of Sense. we can The first is that Strawson well that says imagine" "perfectly a stretch of our own experience sort, but being of the sense-datum the that although "we can form such a picture," nevertheless

for the conception picture does not "contain in itself the materials as itself this obscure of Bennett interprets experience" (p. 109). a as suggesting that Strawson thinks that being must metaphor in order to have the thought "actually have objective experience what of it, the thought of it would be like to have such (perhaps) ll if But have experience." objective "actually experience" means a a in "must actually experience strong sense in which objects"
10 such "this knows

But

if he as

judgments

is equipped with lots "red is the normal

of other color of

concepts barns," us is. The

and then

so the

can make fact that thai he

he has not

(being blind) made

any judgments

like "that thing is red" or


from saying

seems red to me" not will prevent thing "red" means what and thus what redness 11 on Kant," Jonathan "Strawson Bennett,

Philosophical

Review,

Vol. LXXVII (1968), p. 345.

228
man a functioning sense-organs functioning does not hallucination), with brain

RICHARDRORTY
but no (stimulated by electrodes) a man whose life is one long

(or seems then Strawson experience objects, no to say this. in if "actually have On the other hand, position weak "think of one's has the objective meaning experience" simply as contrast of the between then objects," "objective experience

So there seems and "the thought of it" disappears. experience" no satisfactory The in made the preceding interpretation. points we cease I to look for one. should show, think, why paragraphs a sense-datum It is just false that we can imagine to ourselves we cannot imagine ourselves using because experiencei, (roughly) terms. terms without substantival using adjectival simultaneously As to a sense-datum the which shows very argument experience^, are one to is have that physical-object if expe necessary concepts rience shows that the notion of such an experience is incoherent. a sense-datum if we could could only imagine We experience^ the pre-conceptual infant experiences?but, by the of experience, thesis of the conceptualizability infant doesn't experience pre-conceptual anything. The second puzzle which Bennett remarks on is that Strawson, a stretch of his that we can "perfectly well imagine by claiming experience Strawson's what own own experience seems scribes," as being such as the to be offering a "genetic" sense-datum argument: theorist de

When

Strawson

hallucinatory minutes this not, until (we I am

says stretch If so, I am

that of

we

"can

afternoon

experience, I might have then aware the

well perfectly is he conceding and be aware of situation

imagine" that such is this:

a for from

pure thirty (If two

a stretch?

lost.)

envisaged

two-thirty concede)

something of object the same period claim earlier eludes there embodied prepared principles

I therefore have of my states; sensory of of awareness-of is, awareness [that concept of an the concept thus is not its percipi], and awareness and purposes" existence is not "to all intents whose a as my awareness of it. I have this latter concept throughout a strong esse whose

when that

not Strawson to apply I have to which it. Must nothing I have I can have at that time only because that concept in a position then again his argument to apply been it? If not, on me. that claim: rest his But I think he would argument evidence mind to of in must Individuals?especially be a ci-devant in person?that the thesis Strawson that a dis is on really conclusions

is

argue genetically, the form "If P,

basing philosophical which then 0 earlier";

is certainly

what

STRAWSON'S
he seems

OBJECTIVITY
to do here.

ARGUMENT
he an is entitled answer.12 to, but the literature

229
which

argues

that

he

is not

Perhaps deserves

here is suggested What has gone wrong phrase "have by Bennett's a a concept I to when to which have throughout nothing period as and "such the sense-datum his it," by interpreting apply as "hallucinatory." As was argued at the out theorist describes" a stretch of expe set of this paper, we cannot picture to ourselves rience to which we could not apply some physical-object concepts or other. to which to apply it" can mean, All that "have nothing then,
a true

is "have nothing
judgment"?as,

to which
e.g.,

we
a man

can apply
having

it so as to produce
hallucinations of

to which to apply the concept has nothing "elephant" elephants a true judgment. so as to produce So as a result of trying to make of an experience sense of the impossible is which picture somehowr
Bennett

recalcitrant
winds up

to the imposition
construing

of physical-object construal does

concepts,
as

"sense-datum

experience"

and regular as perceptual experience. he does not (or at least should gives him something the claim that you can only have hallucinations namely, perceptions. previously can possibly sort of claim which between relations of pr?supposai The closest Strawson can had This

"hallucinatory Strawson what as orderly just

experience." he wants?for

But

this

not may

hallucinatory

experiences

give be it

Further, not) want?

if you have is claim just not the "genetic" of result from an investigation

concepts. come to a "genetic" (or should) we a to is did not know what argue that if argument perception a hallucination was. was we would not know what But even of concept this claim is not a claim about temporal precedence It is perfectly the objectivity argu acquisition. compatible with as we have reformulated ment it that the concepts of "perception" esse is not (and the concepts "entity whose esse should be acquired is percipi") and "entity whose percipi" is not to The point of the objectivity argument simultaneously. establish a genetic order, but to refute a claim about such an order and "hallucination" ?viz.,
12

the claim

that we

could

have

some

other

concepts

before

Jonathan

Bennett,

op.

cit.,

p.

345.

230
we had

RICHARDRORTY

This argument does not any physical-object concepts. in order about which must the come; imply anything experiences us warns a it rather, against taking seriously bogus description It is unfortunate of a putatively that Strawson experience. possible this point by his claim that we can "perfectly should have obscured
imagine" a sense-datum experience.

well

There is still one last loose thread to be picked up?the topic " of the "necessary unity of consciousness. We brushed this notion that Strawson's for the thesis aside earlier by noting argument was actually an argument for the that such a unity was necessary one if lacked the concept claim that one could not have experience of "seems claim to me" aside or after "my latter We experience." that Strawson arguing it. support can see that the notion us to be Returning the same then brushed this a had not given now to the ex sort of considera of the experience2" of notion

to argument we of plication "unity," tions which led us to call lead incoherent should satisfactory

of "sense-datum suspicious

must include We said earlier that this unity presumably "unity." to formulate to which reference is required the sort of regularities and per of physical-object for the application criteria concepts, now we have seen that one some further regularities. But haps unless he already had could not be aware of the former regularities is implied fact that and this concepts, by the physical-object to put forward a parallel It is tempting con and say that if the thesis of the necessary argument unity of is true, then we could not be aware of any regularities sciousness or of "my of "seems to me" unless we already had the concept states Strawson will not since this But quite work, experience." as the not thesis of consciousness the thesis of the necessary unity of these concepts in order to have expe is necessary that possession objectivity thesis itself. rience but as the thesis of these some employment members of The point that the unity which be should concepts extended is "required" present series of for the the "among

experiences." temporally all "I think" need not accompany the thought that must be such this but that all experiences thought experiences, we face the Here again, however, them all. could accompany is that question of asking what an experience would be like that

puzzling

ARGUMENT OBJECTIVITY STRAWSON'S


lacked

231

If we cannot answer this question, we cannot this unity. are required. sense to the claim that certain regularities give any it is no more possible to imagine And we cannot answer it, because an experience to which this thought could not be attached than it an experience which cannot be subsumed under is to imagine concepts. physical-object to think that we can It is a mistake we might think possible experience which that it transcendental argumentation by it is not imaginable If it is not possible, an begin by imagining and then go on to show is not possible after all.

But if it is not either. like "must then the possess requisite unity" or imaginable, phrases no are use to us in stating of sufficient "must exhibit regularities" our transcendental All that tran have shown. what arguments sort of about what arguments priori arguments?a con show is that if have certain is you experience possible?can us must other Let have certain also. call the concepts cepts you "seems claim that any experiencer must be able to use the concept scendental or "my experience" must the thesis that consciousness be we must know whether this thesis To is true, self-consciousness. and physical ask: Is the notion of a being who has sensory-quality or not the to "seems me" but concept "my expe object concepts, a being same notion in the the of that incoherent rience," way to me" who to be incoherent? has only sensory-quality concepts proved is clearly far from obvious. No simple If it is, the incoherence sort the the thesis will used for of do. objectivity argument not be But this is not to say that a complex argument might One
an

offered.
requires

can argue

that just as an understanding


of "is," so an understanding

of "seems"
of "is"

understanding

an understanding This would of "seems." requires and of physical of notions that the experience saying without correlative?each being unintelligible strictly as case Strawson would it be the Not only that, says:
No of one could as his be unless conscious he could of a

amount

to are

object the other.

riences

be

a unified

in question

world, objective forms subjective just one

extended series of expe temporally as yielding aware of them knowledge the series of experiences which through or experiential route, (p. 27)

But no who

one

could have

have

the notion of

of "a unified "one

did not

the notion

objective world" or subjective experiental

232
route." WTiat suggests

RICHARDRORTY

be the case is that to have that this might the concept of a physical object is to have the notion of something Thus we cannot have the general that can be other than it seems. object" "physical But it may well itself seem like If we were not without as if we the concept having could have particular the

concept "seems."

concepts physical-object to be a stone." "seeming it would objects seem even that we did if we

"stone"

had a multitude

having understand

of concept of such concepts, as of physical experience of "physical the notion without

is: What itself. But the difficulty with this suggestion object" to say that "stone" if is a "physical-object does it mean concept" can occur in a judgment it is not a concept which such as "it seems to be a stone but it isn't"? to Is it any more reasonable a sort to call the of than it call it a physical-object concept concept of experience?
we have a man

To make
who has

this
only

problem
the terms

more
"stone,"

concrete,
"hard,"

suppose
"soft,"

He in his vocabulary. "heavy," "light," and the logical constants no Does stones other and calls hard and heavy things. things sense to say that he is thinking about physical it make objects One is tempted to say that it does, than about experiences? are stones But this move settles because objects. simply physical we are to "stone" is whether what because decide trying nothing as he uses the word means what we mean by it. that the Suppose man in question in fact is never brought into contact with any are induced in him but that linguistic stones, responses by In this case we might be tempted to of his brain. manipulations rather re for "experience in his vocabulary But given of a stone," or "stony experience." sembling experience are we in any of "experience," that he does not have the concept to say that in his to say that? reasonable It seems most position for not is short "stone" except "something anything vocabulary But is it even short for that? Why which is hard and heavy." say that "stone" is short Can there be a use of "something not just for "hard and heavy"? is"? is not short for "physical object which which" which is as in the previous The drift of our reflections paragraph that we might have experience w hich employs follow s : the notion itself of experience the notion concepts without having general occur in a on could the notion like "stone" that words rests coherent language-game which did not contain the notion of

ARGUMENT STRAWSON'S OBJECTIVITY


"seems," but it is not clear that in such a language-game

233
"stone"

it doubt about whether would mean the same may be linked up with Kant's notion that to which the notion of an object is the notion of something expe would This
riences are supposed to correspond.13 If we do not have the

mean

what

it means

to us.

notion

we do not, of "experience," have this notion of obviously, If "stone" is merely short for "hard and heavy," then "object." no it the of notion of "what inkling clearly provides experiences to use to." should correspond Indeed, it is not clear that merely to "hard and heavy" counts as the term "stone" as an alternative

a language-game at all. We should have the same mis as case we had with the of the man who uses only here givings on are the question of whether concepts concepts sensory-quality a as to It looks have used. though language-game really being playing
one must not merely have, at a minimum, substantives as well as

as to interpret the substantives adjectives, sense. names If they cannot of objects in the Kantian be so then a sentence like "this stone is hard and heavy" interpreted, sense. seem to its To put the point in another not bear usual does but one must be able if it does not the "is" in "this stone is hard and heavy," way, to have no force. with Instead of contrast "seems," appears a sentence stone is "this hard and the judgment, heavy" expressing seems to express merely like a habit of uttering the something
vocable "stone" when one utters the vocable "hard and heavy."

Strawson's thesis of the conceptualizability of If, in accord with use of of thus the the (and concepts making judg experience, then we have to say that the man is essential to experience, ments) for lacks the means of "seems" who has no grip on the notion use of and thus lacks and thus the concepts, making judgments,
lacks experience.

argument we have sketched says that only if we have the and therefore of thinking the basis about seems-is contrast, we for Like Strawson's have thought at all. argument objects, do ours the necessary of starts from the thesis consciousness, unity of the conceptualizability of experience. This latter thesis says The that all experience "involves the recognition of particular items as of such and such a kind." The making of judgments thus requires
13 Cf. Critique of Pure Reason, A104.

234

RICHARDRORTY

to be subsumed, and?to give the essence of the argu particulars in a nutshell?particularity ment That is: requires objectivity. we cannot for formulate without words particulars, judgments will keep their and we cannot give a sense to these words which for universals if we do not have the notion role distinct from words the argument in this way, we can see that the of object. Putting an examination of experence, thesis of the conceptualizability plus both the between of relations of presupposition terms, produces all the thesis and thesis consciousness is self that objectivity The two theses are two sides of a single coin? consciousness. the coin which and "seems." that thinks is the relation The of mutual about either skeptic could be subsumed under kinds (thus particulars to exist) simply by the use and thus experience, enabling thought, is A," "something like "this is A" or "something Aish of phrases without is happening" the notions either of calling upon experience or of object. But, so our argument goes, when we ask how words could be given a use, we realize that we like "this" or "something" have nothing of experiences. of physical examples objects or to give the sense of "this such examples Without or to "this" the the referents of these "something," particular" into mere collocations latter terms dissolve of universals ("hard in mind
and heavy," e.g.) rather than particulars subsumed under uni

between pr?supposai thesis is the man

"is" who

save familiar

versals. innocuous think?what show

The

of experience of the conceptualizability looks to explicate what it purports merely it is to because seems to it is to make But analysis judgments. thesis

a judgment is bound up with that the very notion of making the notion of there being objects to serve as the subjects of judg a particular a judgment to subsume ments. under a Is to make If so, then any judgment-making creature must dis universal? use must it and between universals?that is, particulars tinguish certain It must verbal ?to if not words and other words habits. give to have in the ways appropriate in the ways appropriate between distinguish adjectives substantives the But what would a different concepts for words for particulars for words for universals. and substantives in its

it be to recognize this distinction role than linguistic adjectives? or of either of "physical object" questions to which our argu

"experience"?

It is these

last two

rhetorical

STRAWSON'S ment

OBJECTIVITY

ARGUMENT

235

to the skeptic boils down. Thus it boils down to a challenge to spell out the rules of a language-game which would either dis or would with of under universals the pense classifying particulars without the particular-universal distinction involve including names for either physical objects or experiences. It is a challenge, sort of judgments to explain what could be made in other words, a and expe both who lacked concepts being by physical-object Whether this challenge rience concepts. the skeptic can meet is, once again, a question he can show that a language of whether could work of sensory qual e.g., only notions constants. the Without and ities, to," "resembles," logical we in cannot the argument such proposals make detail, examining is self-consciousness for the claim that all consciousness any more contained, "next conclusive than we thesis. objectivity task of the skeptic
14

which

were able to make All that we have done is more difficult than

the argument is again to show it first appears.14

for

the

that the

sake of completeness, that there is a must have the concept experiencer "my or "seems if taken, will the missing which, experience" supply form for Strawson's of the objectivity This is to say, argument. premiss no argument with that although could show that "a dog's visual Bennett, and to' the dog," thus no argument could field was show that all 'nothing was nevertheless "must consciousness self-consciousness self-consciousness, are to fall within states which of Kant's the ambit any conscious accompany It should the be shortcut to thesis noted, that for the any to me"?one states for that inquiry excludes inquiry, cannot to be in and which therefore speculation" this adopting that although (Kant's p. Analytic, line (cf. The Bounds 105). which intelligibly Strawson one could be himself not seems know a oneself made for subject to toy with

the possibility of experience, possibility which interests Kant. To ways place of getting this to the

to saying It amounts pp. 28-29). of Sense, of self-consciousness of the is not a precondition sort of experience it is a precondition for the only in dialectical thesis: consciousness (1) we can enumerate space, the way Strawson uses, is self-consciousness, for the does (3) not latter four which does claim;

alternative objectivity that all claim a

the upon depends not (I have argued) provide at pp. (2) the way suggested the claim that all consciousness results with along the from replacing we have

but

argument satisfactory 219-220 which above, is self-consciousness;

Strawson's

argument Strawson's

just gambit self-conscious are not

lines; described?i.e.,

argument unsatisfactory in the last few pages and then continuing given from using the Bennett results (4) the way which to the experience consideration of restricting then continuing know that space to Strawson's along dogs are conscious is that say here lines. and it seems that they to me

upon depend which the way claim for this

beings?and On Bennett's claim self-conscious, all

that we I have

236

RICHARDRORTY

I have been insisting the previous discussion, that Throughout a priori about the conditions of possible arguments experience about what cannot tell us anything intuitions must be like in order under concepts, tell us but can merely that they be subsumed one must have if one is to be able about the sorts of thoughts I have criticized to have certain other thoughts. for Strawson a seems case to in which resurrect the his Kantian way putting intuitions have internal which notion charac of unsynthesized make them apt for certain sorts of synthesis. The at to to has been least of thus widen (or my argument tendency between the Strawson's gap ap purely "analytic" emphasize) own approach and Kant's via the "theory of synthesis." proach I want to take up the question: did not In this final section, Why as Straw son Kant himself drawr upon the same sort of arguments teristics which
uses (e.g., the argument that to use "seems" you must be able

to use

"is") ?

larger question in epistemology tradition Cartesian on the under carried Investigations. aegis of the Philosophical is the man who thinks that he might The Cartesian skeptic know all there was to know about his experience without knowing we want to argue To defeat about else. him, anything anything without about your experience that you can't know knowing
about something else. Two moves are necessary to argue this:

this question Answering of the relation between

I think, open up the will, revolt against the Kant's revolt and the contemporary

the first know

says that you about anything,

that by the point to does and contrast is intelligible "really is, only by are aimed against the Cartesian's Both moves not just seem." and experience, which knowledge picture of the relation between "seems to me" may be expressed as the notion that experience is self-luminescent.

says that the concepts the about your own presuppose experience move is first The by the expressed object." and the second of experience, ceptualizability

if you are to concepts own the second your experience; including are to know if must which have you you have to have some concept "physical thesis of the con

unclear what very describe ordinarily how do not know implies that he

we them to

say as

about

dogs. "conscious" the them.

The or sort as

non-philosopher "having of thing

would

not

should

settle whether so describe

I and experience," that he would say

STRAWSON'S The

OBJECTIVITY

ARGUMENT

237

as bits of mental is of experiences content in virtue of any other mental but contents, own their natural of their virtue the "before "glow," by by being common mind." The of to the theme Kant's and eye major revolts against Cartesianism is the claim that all Wittgenstein's our knowledge rather than intuitive is, in Kant's phrase, discursive which Cartesian picture are known not ?that are needed and the use of concepts to is, that thought it. The major difference between these two revolts is that are viewed a concept in different ways. For Kant, is concepts a representation, a species of mental for whereas content, Wittgen behavior?the stein, it is a skill, a skill at linguistic ability to use achieve
a word.15

Kant was but was


discrete

able

to make

the first move For

not
mental

able to make

the second.

against Cartesianism, as long as concepts are


is no clear way

contents?representations?there

of presupposition between them can be dis is the cerned. It of only when Wittgensteinian interpretation that we are able to give arguments is adopted for one concepts of the form: "No one concept presupposing another?arguments ' who did not know how to use the word '. . . would be said to know how to use the word Thus Kant was able to say '-'." in the use of concepts consisted self-consciousness of (instead in which relations being, in Bennett's phrase, "an unanalyzable kind of glow which

15 as a species see A320 = B377. On concepts of representations, There in Kant in the Deduction in A) which are, however, passages (especially as rules. construe statement The clearest of this is at A106: "But concepts a concept as regards its form, is always, serves which universal something as a rule." Robert Kant's Wolff, of Mental Theory Activity (Cambridge, cease to be things for Kant Mass., 1963), p. 70, says that "Concepts (mental contents, objects forms of mental of the argument or Wolff succeed substitution for another lead of consciousness) and activity)," of the Critique." in making clear unhelpful and claims what become that ways of doing this shift "is an things essential either to, of (rules, part Kant

I do not

think, however, this shift amounts for unification

that

of one

present ("object Passages we can make sense unless of the notion of anywhere cannot sense of this until we can say something make about what are intuitions for reasons which Wolff himself like; (Kant's Mental states was never Kant p. 152, n.) very Activity, clearly, this. treating criticized; In such concepts but he passages, than never Kant as the found was sort it. indeed of (See for some groping abstract ideas which 20 below.)

("rule metaphor to consciousness").

the beyond intuitions") do not like A106 and we "unity," ummified Theory of to do able way of had

better Berkeley

n.

238
but not human accompanies not able to go on to isolate to self-consciousness. necessary canine

RICHARDRORTY
mental states" 16)but he was the particular concepts which were In particular, to he was unable

the concept for this. showr why "physical object" was necessary he about of con the unification could Instead, only speak vaguely an of sciousness and object in general, produced by the thought as consisting in the unity of consciousness about that thought
itself.17

answer to the question The general of why Kant was unable use of the fact that "seems to me" presupposes "is" (and vice versa, if our argument above for the thesis that all conscious to make ness is self-consciousness was that points of epistemological of words. between the meanings is thus sound) interest could that he had no notion turn on the relations

if offered the support Indeed, of Strawson's would be of them be Kant arguments, suspicious cause of their analytic character?the fact that they depend entirely between rather than on the connection upon connections concepts, it was and intuitions. between concepts enough, Paradoxically because Kant did make the first move against Descartes precisely that he was the second. the
sion.

relation

luminescence

backed into a situation where he was unable to make To see this point, we need to enlarge a bit more on version between of the denial Kant's of the self ver of experience and the Wittgenstein-Strawson

thesis of the conceptualizability insists Kant's of experience we as a of the synthesis of intui that product only get experience tions by concepts. thrust of this thesis is that The anti-Cartesian are not present to contents which there is a species of mental This intuitions. thesis intro consciousness?viz., unsynthesized duces the notion of a whole contents class of mental of which we can never be conscious, and thereby separates the notion of "con

p. 117. Analytic, B137: the faculty terms, is, to use general "Understanding of This in the determinate consists relation of given knowledge. knowledge to an object; an object of and in the is that representations concept the manifold intuition which is united. of of a given Now all unification 17 Cf. representations Consequently of relation it demands is the of consciousness in the synthesis of unity of consciousness that alone constitutes unity . . . ."Cf. to an object A105. them. the

16

Kant's

representations

ARGUMENT STRAWSON'S OBJECTIVITY


tent

239

18 from the notion To of "mental content." of experience" our as mind contain certain that could Kant did, representa say, are nevertheless intuitions?which tions?the unsynthesized to us" until thought has taken place is to say that the "nothing mental this is not known come very to is To say simply by virtue of being mental. close to saying the sort of thing Wittgen infant may be say, e.g., that a pre-linguistic because Kant he does not yet from saying any of identify "pain," he To

philosophers that he is in pain, in pain without knowing have the concept of pain. What prevents as that is thing as clear or straightforward the use ing, e.g., the concept "pain" with took the concept have a concept,

steinian

that, instead of the word

representation. is to have yet another species of mental for Kant, content?one like unsynthesized is unconscious which, intuitions, in a judgment. unless it is used it concepts, (Unsynthesizing are as as unconscious But this seems, intuitions.19) synthesized no of what a concept is gives us no test for its presence, conception reason that lack the concept "pain," nor not the appropriate the infant does make infants
18 As Sellars p. has

as itself a sort of unconscious

any reason judgment.

to think

don,

Science and Metaphysics out, (Lon recently pointed the notion are not of "states of consciousness which content I am calling not present to conscious "mental (what apperceived" un of petites in Leibniz' but Leibniz, is present ness") theory perceptions, to nail down the point that the apperception of a represent "fails like Kant, a numerically distinct between i.e., a distinction representing, ing involves " an apperceptive the representing and is it apperceives. What representing are as Sellars is the notion in Kant's also new claim that, it, "there puts 1968), 10, broad

none are of states classes of consciousness, of the members of which Still more what is the notion is also new that it is importantly, apperceived." a propositional takes place?when attitude is assumed only when judgment we ?that self-consciousness. get 19 a passage as not in so many Kant does but such say this words, can make "The only use which the understanding A68 = B93: of these con of them," is to judge that concepts cepts by means suggests certainly only turn up when in judgments. Kant in this in consciousness says they are rest on functions" same that "concepts and that by "function" he passage one various under representations to saying a that when close fairly it can't to consciousness be present concept job of unifying, even to saying close that concepts ?and don't exist when perhaps they're But Kant was not doing in a permanent this job. state of confusion on this to his claim that we due could think with subject concepts-without-intui we even tions couldn't know with them the and n., (cf. Bxxvi, though on unschematized passages categories.) the "unity of the act of common representation." its isn't doing This bringing seems means

240

RICHARDRORTY

test of the possession instead of offering a behavioristic Thus, Kant creates, as a result of concepts in the manner of Wittgenstein, are inevitably of the idea that mental entities of his repudiation two mental of and self-luminescent, contents?concepts species on are on those full intuitions?which (a) modelled experiences, are full-fledged which of "representations" syn fledged examples but yet are (b) objects of which in judgments, theses of intuitions we can never be conscious The study of the relations in isolation. the between entities becomes these two sorts of unapperceivable a pseudo-discipline, of transcendental philosophy. pseudo-subject Deduction The of the Transcendental (and of the argument of this within the context is written Idealism) be written in terms of what is would thus and pseudo-discipline, to of rather than in terms intuitions for be synthesized, required are are that certain other what concepts concepts required given the "mental eye" picture of the Kant tried to repudiate required. Refutation of mind the Cartesians?the picture to which all that it took to be known was to be mental, according how anything non-mental it was puzzling could be and in which tried to replace it by a picture of "mental synthesis." known?and that the platitudes which But this new picture gave him the notion were must be defended the truths, truths skeptic synthetic against which he had inherited to the character of intuitions by reference guaranteed as by reference if we to the character of concepts. Now anti that such philosophically interesting, accept Kant's notion are to be true thesis always going skeptical truths as the objectivity as well as by the character by virtue of the character of intuitions we cannot be satisfied by the purely of concepts, argu analytic thesis. For to offer for this ments which Strawson these attempts which as well are arguments ?arguments
meant by '. .

from

were

which which

connect concept with other concepts merely know what was boil down to "You wouldn't
you knew what was meant by '-\"

.' unless

think that there is such around, is not an to the nature of intuitions which are intuitions under which of the concepts appeal to the nature we the kinds or argu shall never be satisfied with synthesized, thesis which Kant gives in the Transcen ments for the objectivity that that only We shall never be satisfied dental Deduction. of an object is that is the thought of intuitions which unification But, to turn the point a thing as an appeal

ifwe

do not

ARGUMENT STRAWSON'S OBJECTIVITY

241

if all of intuitions which is the unity of consciousness unification and equally that we are told is that the two are equally unifications, From Kant's point of view, the claim that Strawson's primitive. are sufficient for the objectivity thesis betrays the arguments us the that truths of which tell central insight Critique?viz., of possible experience must be synthetic, and to be to must make reference besides something concepts.20 synthetic From aWittgensteinian insistence Kant's point of view, however, as two species on the distinction between and concepts intuitions about the nature is like the notion of "representation" of representations, itself, a of the relic merely "mental-eye" picture of the mind. Kant chose for his repudiation the form which of the Thus, our viewr of of the mental, Cartesian determined the knowledge for the objectivity form of his argument it the thesis, and made and inconclusive form which it is. We may gener unsatisfactory this alize and perhaps point by sketching more clarify fully the a in which is between Kant and Descartes way half-way point common The to tradition and Descartes Hume Wittgenstein. was that the task of epistemology so to which below was, speak, knowledge taught to find a foundation for the level of propositional into their component attitudes?to decompose judgments parts to in connection and find the between these parts the ("ideas") to find in the lack of connec basis for knowledge (or, as in Hume, tion between toward them the basis for skepticism). Kant went traditional because epistemology, the judgment the indecomposable half-way he went unit of

overthrowing toward making half-way

went the rest of the way. analysis. Wittgenstein epistemological content are empty,intuitions When Kant said that "thoughts without are blind,"21 he took what might without have been the concepts first step toward saying that there are no such things as concepts
20 purely The that Kant's is betrayed if we own to appeals to substitute of

point

analytical

arguments 116 in

program for Kant's

try the

character

intuition

is well made

by Beck.

Cf. Studies

in the Philosophy

of Kant

1965), pp. (Indianapolis, to be an ostensive element ciples: concepts cussion thetic "Without of of intuition the

intuition, are given

Beck ff., where argues the arguments for the are empty the concepts in of 67 the ff. them." categories

indefinability at pp. real definitions" 21 A51 = B75.

that there is supposed a priori synthetic prin no matter how many dis See also Beck's (p. 117) at pp. 84 ff., and of "syn

242

RICHARD

RORTY

other than as abstracted and intuitions, elements of judgments. in other words, have gone on to conclude He might, that an empty or a blind "representation" was not really a representation at all, to count as such. and that only judgments were If he had done have said that only one judgment could give sup this, he would port mere to another subject predicate of judgments, did not contain (respectively) epistemological from which authority which they could pass on to the judgment abstracted. had been He the have thus, would, they approached of epistemology characteristic of the post-W^ittgenstein to which era in is not an according knowledge philosophy, sort of glowr which detectable radiates introspectively a nor a "fit" clear and distinct result of which ideas, tified, true judgment, of hypostatizations and the that intuitions and the and concepts, as terms

view

analytic

from certain is a property

of intuitions but simply jus syntheses by concepts, belief. On this view of knowledge, and of episte we not how is understand knowledge possible mology, by looking into the mind, but by looking at the behavior of the whole human of that linguistic behavior which is the giving being?specifically, reasons for beliefs. of successful it steps could be taken, however, was necessary to have provided accounts of what alternative intui are. to say that they are It is not enough tions and concepts Before this final series of of the subject hypostatizations an account of what one wants have terms of judgment? and predicate or "to it is to "have an intuition" in philosophy which on the utterance of

a concept." turn It is the linguistic accounts such makes possible. By focussing one can see intuitions statements, (sensations) cognitive, tion (in tain of the organism have which organisms To have as to be states

as internal, but non are apt for the produc which a language) of cer mastered

in other words, intuition, a state?a state apt, in becomes dispositional analyzed a for making of certain other conditions, the fulfillment given a is thus not to have To have an intuition certain assertion. "immediate to be in, to use Kant's phrase, representation?not at relation to an object" in a symbolic or cognitive way all, but to to a at causal be related to the object most, way. Turning in, a but not to one have them is to of have representation, concepts, in To have a concept, a skill?a mastery of a piece of vocabulary. assertions.

a certain

ARGUMENT STRAWSON'S OBJECTIVITY


short,

243

to behave in a certain way. is to be disposed both With thus and intuitions into to lin concepts analyzed dispositions seems of the notion to itself be guistic behavior, "representation" a left without work to do. of The notion Vorstellung?something in the mind which stands in place of the object to be known? as the and with it the notion of epistemology thus vanishes, discipline the internal relations Vor between investigates as an Instead of of arrangement treating experience stellungen. of the sorts and of various representations, considering possibility as a matter can be related of experiences of what representations can we now as to what others, treat experience "that which simply is reported which

and the possibility of certain assertions" by certain as of certain the assertions being made. experiences possibility a matter To find necessary thus becomes truths about experience was to the ineffable to not of appealing Kant forced do in (as appealing to the character of intuitions as well as the character of to the conditions of certain assertions but of appealing concepts), a as the objectivity thesis such To demonstrate made. being of demonstrating that we cannot thesis is thus a matter imagine about anything being made by a person who was not about physical assertions of objects. making capable to flesh out I have attempted In the preceding paragraphs, between that there are interesting the familiar notion parallels an assertion in philosophical and the revolution revolution Copernican and at the same introduced thought by the later Wittgenstein, Both the comparison time to account in part for the differences. in The tradition and the contrast may be summed up as follows. overcome was an to Descartes attempt inaugurated by philosophy metaphysical by finding principles skepticism epistemological referred beyond insure that the contents of our mind which would Kant's to physical divine guarantee (e.g., Descartes' objects and distinct ideas, Leibniz' Spinoza's unity panpsychism, in the one Substance). of thought and extension of the attributes that the such "dogmatic" Kant transcended projects by seeing themselves of clear only way was to be guaranteed was by the reference a our was to it of what be mental that very conception showing content presupposed that there were physical objects?by showing of the mental was possible because that experience experience only He was the first to employ the of the physical was possible. in which

244

RICHARDRORTY

strategy of saying that not any and every sort of experience which sort of experience. describe was a possible the skeptic might But an was his of conception unfortunately "impossible experience" in terms of the notion not being properly of intuitions explicated was not a To detect what was and what unified by concepts. a matter thus became of determining when possible experience a matter for which there intuitions were and were not so unified, were no criteria since ununified intuitions (and could be none, were the To save the Kantian of showing program ineffable). a was unexperienceable, he described that the situation skeptic had to be developed. clearer notion of "unexperienceable" It was turn in philosophy to develop the explication left to the linguistic as "not such as to be expressible of "unexperienceable" in a self sustaining a wider acceptable analyzed behavior latter on not parasitic (i.e., a language-game this explication But language-game)." only becomes when the possession of intuitions and concepts is states for into the of away apt production linguistic language-game

in the way we have described above. this (For without can are that insist the there expe skeptic analysis, possible are not expressible at all.) in language It is thus riences which the last traces of the "mental eye" picture of the mind only when can be seen as are eradicated that arguments such as Strawson's sufficient

Kant made the first moves toward against the skeptic. a was of mind that better but not the he one, picture by replacing was use not able to go all the way. to the he able Consequently to Strawson.22 kind of argument which is available Princeton University.

22 extensive which

I am led me

grateful comments to make

to on many

Jonathan the

Bennett

and draft

to Richard of this

Bernstein

for

next-to-last changes.

paper?comments